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Battambang

As we get dropped off at the bus station we immediately notice the lack of intimidating tuc-tuc drivers compared to Siem Reap - what a relief. We decide to walk towards the guest houses we've picked from a combination of the Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor. It's very hot in the sun and I soon resemble Niagara Falls... All the guest houses we'd picked as favourites before leaving Siem Reap are unfortunately full, and we have to settle with going for the "door to door technique" we visit quite a few grotty hotels - why are the nicer ones always taken... No need to answer that on second thought... We finally find the Royal Hotel, and they offer us an OK room at a discounted rate - a bit more expensive than what we normally go for, but I'm tired of walking up and down stairs in this heat looking like a drowned rat to look at sh*t-holes so it'll do.

In the afternoon we do a self-guided tour of Battambang’s architecture that we downloaded from KA Tours - it has many traces of the French colonisation and some nice Art Deco influences. At some stage it's like we could as well be standing in a street somewhere in France. After our sightseeing we stop by Smoking Pot, a restaurant mentioned in the Lonely Planet. We have some gorgeous wok-roasted chicken and decide to book a cooking class for the following afternoon. After our splendid dinner we visit Bamboo Train Cafe and Riverside Balcony Bar, both are very nice bars, but because they're a little bit out of the centre of town they're both very quiet - a real shame as they both have a lot of character - much more so than the more "fancy" bars around the hotels in the centre of town, which are more generic and could as well be anywhere in Europe - and they're overpriced.

[caption id="attachment_1727" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Wat Pipetharam, Battambang. Wat Pipetharam, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1728" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Battambang. Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1729" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Central Market, Battambang. Central Market, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1730" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Battambang. Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1731" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Battambang. Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1732" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Battambang. Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1733" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Battambang. Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1734" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Old Sangker Cinema, Battambang. Old Sangker Cinema, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1735" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang. Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1736" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang. Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1737" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang. Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1738" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang. Wat Damrey Sor, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1739" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Battambang Railway Station. Battambang Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1740" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Battambang Railway Station. Battambang Railway Station.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1741" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Battambang. Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1742" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Battambang. Battambang.[/caption]

The next day we manage to be ten minutes late for our cooking class at Smokin Pot with Vannak. A bit embarrassing as the other couple attending the class are waiting for us for the lesson to begin. We first go to the Central Market to pick up the ingredients needed. We pick up various vegetables and the fish for our main dish. The fish is called snake-fish and there is no doubt it's fresh as it's still alive when purchased. After a bit of a brutal treatment by the market trader the fish is most definitely dead and quickly relieved of its scales and fins. We then head back to start our lessons. It's similar to the Laos and Thai cooking lessons we've had, but at the same time quite distinctive. On the menu for the day it's Amok Snake-Fish, Beef Lok Lak and Khmer Style Coconut Roasted Chicken (the same as we had here the evening before). The other couple are Flavie and Sacha, a French couple that are at the start of their 10 months travel and we realise they're also blogging on Wordpress, same as us. If you like to have a look at their adventure you can visit their page at East Side Story. After the class is over we have a nice long chat with the owner of Smokin Pot and our teacher of the day Vannak.

[caption id="attachment_1743" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Central Market, Battambang. Central Market, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1744" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Central Market, Battambang. Central Market, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1745" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1746" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1747" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1748" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1749" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Snake-Fish Amok sizzling in the pan. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Snake-Fish Amok sizzling in the pan.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1750" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Snake-Fish Amok ready for serving. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Snake-Fish Amok ready for serving.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1751" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Snake-Fish Amok ready for serving. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Snake-Fish Amok ready for serving.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1752" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Beef Lok-Lak ready for serving. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. The Beef Lok-Lak ready for serving.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1753" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1754" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1755" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1760" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1756" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1757" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1758" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Vannak showing us how to pan-roast a chicken in coconut water.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1759" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Pan-Coconut-Water-Roasted Chicken. Cooking Class at Smokin Pot Restaurant, Battambang. Pan-Coconut-Water-Roasted Chicken.[/caption]

Our next stop is Pnom Penh, and it's a fairly short journey which we conveniently book from our hotel. No complications at all with the travel are a welcoming change and we arrive in Pnom Penh on time and without any issues underway - what a joy, we love Battambang!